Home. Where is home?
I have been thinking a lot about this. I have had my Isle of Wight family over for a three week holiday. What a fabulous time it was, and I was so sad for it to be over. It was like a piece of Dad was with me again, and it felt wonderful. A friend observed that I wasn’t just deeply connected to my cousins but also to the Isle of Wight, the birthplace of my Dad. I talked as if I had been born there too.
My Mum’s family moved to the Island when she was a child, but my Dad’s family were born and bred there. Dad, the youngest of five siblings, was the only one to leave his island home and immigrated to Australia when he was 23 years old.
Growing up I remember the odd occasions the Isle of Wight was mentioned on the news or a random TV show. Dad would fist pump the air and let out a little cheer. As my brother and I got older, we too would acknowledge with pride the mention of his birthplace with a cheer and a smile.
We travelled there together as a family when I was 7 years old. My memories at that time are confined to the cousins who bought me the most lollies and my beautiful Aunt’s kind voice in a room crammed full of family, all unfamiliar to me.
I wouldn’t return until I was 28 years old when Andrew and I visited for three days as part of our first overseas holiday together. It was a fabulous experience, and we immediately regretted not having allowed for more time there. We roamed the places Dad had talked to us about, and it was nice to finally be able to see for myself that the Island was as magical and beautiful as he had conveyed and as I had imagined.
So having never been much of a crier I was at a loss as to how much I broke my heart when the time came to get on the ferry to leave the Island and say goodbye to my family. We certainly had a fabulous long distance relationship via phone calls and letters, which I still have to this day, but the feeling of being wrenched away from them, the island, was overwhelming and deep. I felt like I was leaving my home. We made promises that we would return sooner rather than later but two beautiful baby boys came along, finances changed, and well, life just gets in the way of the best-laid plans.
So I didn’t return to the Island until 2016 when Andrew and I took my beloved Dad’s ashes back to his home a year after he died of Leukaemia.
It was a very bittersweet time during which I feel we may have covered nearly every step where Dad had once walked. I found myself gazing across the green fields he had explored as a lad or staring out to sea from the Esplanade at Ventnor, really taking in every vista. I said to Andrew that one day I would like to live on the Island for a few months and just “be.” I feel very strongly about doing this.
So, back to the question of where is home?
Is home a place?
Is home a person?
Is home a feeling?
Home is the place that I feel I want to go back to after a long day.
Home is sitting with my cousin’s reminiscing about our childhood.
Home is the smell of the aftershave my Dad always wore.
Home is lying on the bed with Mum talking.
Home is hearing my brother laugh out loud.
Home is hugging my brothers in law after a long time apart.
Home is catching up with a friend where you come away feeling happy.
Home is wherever my boys are.
Home is sitting by a fire.
Home is loving and being loved in return.
Home is lying in bed, listening to the rain on the roof, Andrew asleep next to me and the boys both home, safe and sound in their bedrooms.
Home is the smell every Sunday morning of Andrew’s cooked breakfast.
Home is wearing no make-up, a warm jumper and thick socks – no shoes.
Home will be the Isle of Wight when my life here is complete – for home is where my heart is and a large part of it is there. With my Dad, his memories, my memories. A strong connection. A deep feeling.
Home for me is a feeling.
Where is your home?